18-year-old Alex Warren from Poole has won the Young Person’s Foster Carer Award at the annual FosterTalk Foster Carer Awards. The award recognises the commitment and dedication of birth children within foster families to the children and young people their parents look after.
Edward Timpson, Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families, opened the ceremony by praising and congratulating all of the winning foster carers present. Alex received his award from silver Olympic medallist and World Champion, Jamie Baulch; who was in care himself until he was adopted at six months old, and from TV’s TOWIE star Debbie Douglas. As well as being a foster carer for over two decades, Debbie is also a government ambassador for fostering.
Alex’s family has fostered with Foster Care Associates (FCA) for more than 15 years, caring for more than 30 children and young people during that time. He was nominated for the award by his mother, Helen Warren.
Commenting on why she feels Alex is so deserving of this award, Helen said:
“I’m incredibly proud of Alex and I know I’m biased because I’m his mum, but he really is inspirational. Over the years he has shown maturity beyond his years and a real affinity for connecting with the children and young people, particularly those who may have experienced trauma or have difficulty with communicating. Somehow, he can always reach them. When I told Alex about the award, he was surprised – he’s such a modest and selfless person.
“He works with young people all the time, teaching them to dance, and it is great for them to have a male role model who is so enthusiastic and encouraging. His long term goal is to use his passion for dance and affinity for working with young people to become a dance psychotherapist for young people who have experienced trauma. I’m so proud of the genuine, focussed and kind young man my son has become. I truly believe that our family experience of fostering has been enriching for us all.”
Now in its third year, the FosterTalk awards highlight how foster families are fundamental in turning young people’s lives around and Alex is dedicated to doing just that.
Commenting on his award, Alex said: “I was really surprised when I found out about the award and I’m over the moon. It’s so nice to be recognised for what you put your efforts into, but I just really like to help people – that’s how my parents have brought me up.
“I’ve never known anything other than fostering, but I’ve never felt that I had to share my parents with other children. To me, they were a brother or sister, but the difficult part was when they had to move on because you had made a connection. I can imagine that’s been the hard part for my parents, but I’d recommend fostering to anyone as it gives young people a chance to have a better life. That’s why I want to carry on teaching dance, but combine it with therapy to help young people. I’m not sure I would have thought of this as a career if it wasn’t for my experience of fostering.”
Chris Jones, the family’s supervising social worker at FCA, said:
“Birth children in foster families play such a significant role in helping the children and young people to feel comfortable and happy in their new home. Alex is a remarkable young man and such a deserving winner of this award – he has a natural affinity with young people and has a very bright future ahead of him.
“It’s wonderful to see the riches that come from fostering in the spotlight through these awards – they are an important reminder of the valuable and rewarding work done by foster carers across the country each and every day.”
Edward Timpson, Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families, said:
“As someone who grew up with over 80 foster siblings, I have seen first-hand that a stable and nurturing home environment is essential to helping children achieve their potential. Foster carers make a huge impact on children’s lives, and the awards highlight the incredible commitment and love that families like these bring to fostering some of our most vulnerable children across the country.”
Melody Douglas, managing director of FosterTalk, comments: “Working with foster carers every day, we see the enormous commitment and positive difference they make to the children and young people in their care. We’re delighted to be presenting these awards for the third consecutive year to shine a light on some of the inspiring achievements of foster carers across the UK and celebrate the work that all carers do to give the children in their care a safe, stable home and access to life-changing opportunities.
“We had hundreds of entries which made it very hard for our judges, but this award for Alex is well deserved. From such a young age he has demonstrated such empathy and compassion for the children and young people in his parents’ care. We hope that our awards inspire other people to consider becoming foster families too.”
FosterTalk helps more than 30,000 foster carers nationwide, working alongside over 190 fostering services in the support of their foster carers. FosterTalk’s membership package offers a range of support to foster carers including tax and benefits advice, legal advice as well as counselling.
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